25 Inimitable Men 12/25
Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation)
When it comes to the men of Parks and Recreation it’s impossible not to have them all on this list because of how intricately they’re each written and brought to life by their respective actors. And in truly inimitable ways, each character has the kind of story to tell that someone somewhere needs to hear. For Ron Swanson, he’s not only an unsurpassed boss, but he’s an incredibly kind soul behind what may be classified as the manliest man to exist. As a feminist and a hard worker who loves breakfast and meat an obscene amount, Ron Swanson is the kind of character that’s bound to leave a mark on anyone. And perhaps my favorite thing about him is the fact he plays a crucial role in providing a different perspective for men who may think feminism just isn’t for them — well if that’s the case; steak appreciating Ron Swanson would say otherwise.
Michael Schur and Greg Daniels are geniuses when it comes to the characters they’ve written. It takes a lot of skill and risk to develop something like Parks and Recreation when there are a number of critics out there that’d instantly slam characters like Ron Swanson. But he’s written with such delicacy and realism that he’s able to challenge viewers in ways they may not have seen coming. Ron’s feminism isn’t thrown into the face of viewers with the kind of force that may seem jarring, but rather the subtly in the beginning is what makes it so brilliant. He’s presented to us as a man who’s working for the government while he fervently hates the government and his job, but deep within, you know he has a sincere desire to make the world a better place, and he reveals this by supporting his female coworkers whose ideas he values greatly even though he’s reluctant to agree with them. In his display of female praise, Ron’s ability to carry on extremely traditional manly activities with great love ultimately showcases the fact that it can and should be done. You never once doubt Ron’s strength when he admits to loving riddles or even drunkenly giggles. In fact, it is in those moments where you see his strength most clearly because as a man, he isn’t afraid of being his true self regardless of what people may think of him. And while his coworkers may not get all of that, as the audience we’re able to understand why certain things are hidden because they aren’t often the important life changing matters that the world needs to know. Where Ron needs to be bold with his beliefs, he is. Where he knows he can make an impact, he’s perfectly clear about what he desires and how he feels. For instance, it’s very important to make it clear that learning of Lil’ Sebastian’s passing made him cry.
As a character with a lot to say, Ron Swanson has said two things that have inspired and will be carried forever. (At least with me.) “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” I personally remember hearing that at a time where I needed it most and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it was coming from someone with such distinct beliefs. You’d imagine that someone like him would praise constant hard work in an area where one wants to achieve success, but I admire the wisdom to understand that as human beings we’re only capable of carrying so much on our shoulders. And to tell Leslie that she needs to take the sabbatical in order to bring her absolute best, strongest self to the elections was the perfect piece of advice that could have showcased what strong work actually is — dedicating oneself to something wholly. When we put our absolute all into something, we’re guaranteed to succeed in it. We are guaranteed to have the energy needed to come out of it not weakened or drained, but truly satisfied and proud of ourselves. Another piece of advice that’s shown Ron Swanson’s unparalleled wisdom is when he states: “Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way madness lies.” Essentially, going hand in hand with the advice above is this piece of wisdom to prove that in order to justly succeed in something, human beings must do it for the right reasons. And as someone who isn’t a fan of too much attention or acclaim, Ron’s choice to do things because they’re right and not because he wants some sort of praise reveals honor in the form of an incredibly brave man.
There are a number of great qualities to admire about Ron Swanson, but by the end of the series I realized that my favorite trait of his is his loyalty and love for his friends. When it’s revealed in “Leslie and Ron” that he wanted a job in the government because of his friends, Ron’s heart was revealed in a way it’d never have been before. In everything that he’s done, he’s done it out of love and respect for his friends. A man who claims he only has “work proximity associates”. It’s clear that there’s never been a person to care more for his friends than Ron Ulysses Swanson. And that revelation illuminated the fact that there’s a reason he could never give up on Tom in spite of how much he’d mess up when it came to businesses, it revealed just how much he cared and believed in Leslie, it revealed just how much he admired April for all that she’d done, and it revealed the fact that he believed Andy was capable of greatness. There’s absolutely nothing Ron wouldn’t for his family and friends, and that kind of person is the best kind at the end of the day. You knew that whatever word came out of his mouth, it’d be the absolute truth. The heartfelt honest truth. He was hysterical, ridiculous, crafty, incredibly brave and loyal — without a single doubt — inimitable to the t.
And Nick Offerman. In my life time, one of my dreams is to meet this man and simply shake his hand while thanking him. What an honor that would be, right? Offerman’s embodiment of Ron Swanson was nothing short of brilliant — from the very first words he spoke to the last, Offerman showcased a wide array of emotions that revealed a prodigious amount of Ron’s heart. A stern, incredibly hard working individual with a heart of a gold and an appropriate appreciation for alcohol. His wisdom and his humor are unparalleled and if to be frank, I’m almost certain I can make the assumption that there’s not a single person out there who’s watched Parks and Recreation and doesn’t care immensely for him. As a man who doesn’t exactly care to be liked or praised, Ron Swanson is surely adored by many.